Italian Influences On The Austrian School

Talk about forgotten economic theorists. I wonder how much discussion is given - if at all - to the thinkers like Ferdinando Galiani in Italy mentioned in this article.

Isolated excerpt:

"Galiani believed that government generally should not interfere in the natural workings of the economy. A government that attempts to stimulate all sectors of the economy, agricultural and industrial, stimulates nothing. Stimulation means that a particular sector is given preference over the other sectors, and how can one sector be given preference over another if all sectors are stimulated?"

A question that still goes unanswered these days. In a similar vain, why do some companies in certain sectors keep getting subsidies at the expense of others? Where the government pours in, it comes out somewhere, no? Who's on the hook and when will it be demonstrated once and for all what the benefit is? "Saving jobs" has become the mantra for those who espouse giving money to companies. I want to see more studies attempting to proce this as opposed to just being accepted as normal procedure.


  1. Very interesting. After all, Friedrich Nietzsche, who was an expert in matters of intellectual excellence, called Ferdinando Galiani the "most fastidious and refined intelligence" of the Eighteenth Century.

  2. Ah, didn't know that. Sounds like Italian philosophy was alive and well prior to and during the Enlightenment as well as beyond!

  3. Yes, indeed. To make an example, Galiani was almost a contemporary of the great Neapolitan philosopher, historian and jurist Giambattista Vico (1668 – 1744), who is often claimed to have inaugurated modern philosophy of history …

    PS: Galiani’s 1769 Dialogues sur le commerce des blés, written in French with a light and pleasing style, delighted Voltaire, who described it as a cross between Plato and Molière (you can read it here.

  4. Thanks Rob. I read the first 20 pages - my LITERATE French is rusty but passable!

    It's interesting to note the discussion about Rome and the mention of Naples. The 18th century wasn't kind to Italy but it did belong to France.

    I also like the line of thinking about the misapplication of our experiences to solve modern problems.


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